Forging a Path Beyond Borders

The Global South

image of Forging a Path Beyond Borders

The publication, prepared as a contribution to the BAPA+40 Conference delves into what the future of South-South cooperation holds for developing countries, and how it can be reenergized and revitalized as a unique area of development cooperation. Given the trajectory of South-South cooperation over the last 40 years, the way forward needs to be traced, particularly in important areas of work like regional cooperation and digital industrialization. Section 1 of the report looks at the evidence behind the so-called “rise of the South” to document the qualitative and quantitative changes observed in South-South cooperation over the past four decades, highlighting that, while South-South cooperation has intensified, its impact remains uneven and incomplete. Section 2 looks at South-South cooperation’s link to the means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly with respect to trade and development issues, drawing on an example addressing Sustainable Development Goal 7, to highlight how South-South cooperation can provide critical solutions to the South’s development challenges. Section 3 examines policy options in a number of domains that can help improve South-South cooperation, drawing from a wide range of UNCTAD experience. Section 4 looks at the new landscape of Southern development finance actors and how developing countries can draw on this new emerging source of South-South cooperation to finance connectivity, structural transformation and industrialization. Section 5 explores key and emerging areas for South-South cooperation, including regional cooperation, building productive capacity and responsible investment. Section 6 looks at best practices in South-South cooperation drawn from UNCTAD technical cooperation experiences. Section 7 looks at the role that South-South cooperation can play in light of new technologies, in particular related to so-called "Fourth Industrial Revolution" technologies.



Key areas for South–South cooperation

Strengthening regional and interregional integration requires addressing both the ‘push’ factors that have encouraged developing countries to integrate more closely in recent decades and the ‘pull’ factors. Both gathered steam in the years following the global financial crisis of 2008/09, but for many developing countries, this simply intensified a trend towards South–South integration that had been proceeding for several decades already. Push factors include the frustrations with the limitations and failures of the global financial architecture and traditional multilateral lenders; the lacklustre economic performance and sluggish demand from northern economies in the post-crisis years; and a reappraisal of developing countries’ experience in GVCs and other forms of global trade. As long as the global financial architecture remains unreformed and developing countries do not feel sufficiently supported in times of economic crisis or for long-term development needs, and as long as global trade appears uncertain, then it is to be expected that regional integration will strengthen, if only as a default reaction.


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